July 28, 2022
Searles Gardening Team
Gardening is a great way to be outdoors amongst nature and benefit both aesthetically and physically from your hard work. However, all the bending and lifting can sometimes cause old sprains and strains to flare up.
We asked Avid Gardening and Qualified Occupational Therapist Kelly Forbes on her tips for gardening safely and preventing injuries in your garden. There are a few things you can do to help reduce the occurrence of injuries.
1. A good way to reduce fatigue levels is to remove unnecessary effort in your garden. Planting high water-need plants close to your hose and tap will help reduce the amount of effort required lifting or carrying a hose. Investing in a good-quality retractable hose can also help reduce strain involved with watering.
2. Introduce a raised garden bed to reduce the amount of bending required while gardening. This also allows you to get close to your plants easily for weeding and pruning.
3. Placing pots and plants on staggered shelving will reduce the amount of bending require.
4. Pot plants on a table rather than the ground, this helps prevent awkward positions and postures which can cause back pain.
5. Bags of fertilizers, mulch and soil can sometimes be heavy and difficult to move. Dividing the bag into smaller loads or using a wheelbarrow will help prevent back pain from flaring up.
6. Try not to use your pain as an indicator to stop gardening. Time how long it takes for pain to flare up and implemented rest breaks before i.e I know I get back pain if I weed for 20 mins so I therefore take a rest break every 15 minutes. By not entering pain levels it is easier to recuperate and continue to garden for longer.
7. Try sitting while gardening to reduce strain on your knees, hips or back. A low stool (not too low or sometimes you can’t get off it!) can help with sitting comfortably on uneven surfaces.
8. Using hard to open old gardening tools can add to pain or discomfort felt in your hands. Purchase tools with padded and ergonomic handles (curved edging). This will make pruning and cutting much gentler on your hands!
9. Remember to choose your plants based on your physical capabilities. Native plants require less watering and pruning and are great for the environment. Remember to think how large the plant can get, and the amount of pruning that can be involved.
10. When planting or weeding ensure to use cushioning and proper posture. Kneeling with one leg up also helps to reduce strain.
11. Try and avoid reaching overhead with your arms stretched and remember to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Avid Gardener and Qualified Occupational Therapist - Kelly Forbes